Your money or your life?
A recent study published in the Journal that serves Dermatology specialists contained depressing news relative to the American medical profession. The authors performed an extensive survey/investigation to assess how long it takes to schedule an appointment to see a Dermatologist. In particular, they wanted to compare the time it takes to get in for a lucrative, cosmetic procedure such as injecting Botox, with the time it takes to be seen for a worrisome, potentially cancerous mole.
The authors noted that because patients must pay cash up front for cosmetic procedures, and because they involve no paperwork, third-party payors, or regulated prices, Botox injections are more lucrative than normal (medical) office visits. The authors also noted that worrisome moles can be deadly melanoma and should be examined promptly, since pre-metastasis, they are not life-threatening, but if present for too long they turn fatal.
When they compared the average time to be seen by the doctor for these two exemplar problems, the authors found that your money is more important than your life: the average time to be seen by the dermatologist for a Botox injection: 8 days. The average time to be seen for examination of a potentially cancerous mole: 26 days. When asked to comment for the media, the head of the national Dermatology society suggested that "patients who are concerned about a cancerous mole must insist on being seen urgently". More evidence of the need for patients to be assertive to protect their own health, and more evidence that in America, on average, your money speaks more loudly than your health.